Travel and Leisure Magazine

In what must have been unusual survey design–178,000 person Providence, RI makes the top 5 in 5 major categories–the readers of Travel and Leisure Magazine have chosen their favorite American cities.

The print magazine presents six main areas of urban competition: People (good-looking, smart, stylish, etc.), Food, Quality of Life (whatever that is), Shopping, Culture, and Nightlife, and within each 4 categories. Thus, in food: cafes, fine dining, ethnic food, and barbecue (the winner: Kansas City). In each category, the magazine lists the top five cities. Philadelphia did not make top five in any of the Food, People, Quality of Life, Shopping, or Nightlife categories; however, this city made top five in all four categories in Culture, including Classical Music (#2), Museums (#5), Theater (#5), and Historical Sites/Monuments (#1), and was voted overall #1 city for culture in America.

Travel and Leisure Magazine

The folks at the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance are no doubt grinning ear to ear.

But alas, the nation’s travel magazine readers find other things to like, as revealed on the magazine’s website: Philadelphia is #6 for fine dining, #5 for diversity, #4 for micro brews and pizza, #2 for street food and hamburgers, and is #1 most sports crazed (or delusional?).

These, by the way, are the rankings given by visitors. What’s interesting is the difference between visitor and resident rankings: in every case visitors rank this city better than residents do, and often by a wide margin. I suppose the insidious inferiority complex persists, at least on the part of the affluent, who are certainly the readers of T&L.

Just out of curiosity, I had a look at the visitor/resident breakdown for New York. Well more than half the time New Yorkers rank their city higher than visitors do, and dare I say, much of the time they are right.

About the author

Nathaniel Popkin is co-editor of the Hidden City Daily and author of three books of non-fiction, including the forthcoming Philadelphia: Finding the Hidden City (Temple Press) and a novel, Lion and Leopard (The Head and the Hand Press). He is the senior writer of the film documentary "Philadelphia: The Great Experiment."


  1. Great news, but the rankings of the residents continues to show the ever prevalent inferiority complex. As the city continues to improve the inferiority complex is just becoming more and more alarming. It’s like a disease that has infected the city, no matter what is done, many Negadelphians will always see their city as a dump. It’s no wonder we can’t get people to stop throwing their god damn trash on the ground, why throw it in a trash can when the whole city is a dump? This whole city needs some therapy. Get over your inferiority complex and start having pride in your city.

    • bvj for mayor I say!!!

      So very true it’s really unfortunate, I can’t tell you how many conversations I hear on the streets about Philly Vs NY I come across once daily. I love NY but nothing compares to home and I simply do not get why others don’t see the greatness that is and can be in this city.

      And I was just having a convo with someone about the dumping of trash on the streets. I’d love to know how that started but at the end of the day it’s jut Philly so why not? Forget the trash just a few feet away.

  2. there’s freedom in dumping trash out of the car window and stuffing it in the sewers. philadelphians just love freedom. can’t confine them to a trash can.

  3. #4 for Forth of July?? I might accept Boston; but Portland, ME and San Diego? You’re kidding, right?

  4. I would vote for bvj for mayor.

  5. “It is at least as possible for a Philadelphian to feel the presence of Penn and Franklin as for an Englishman to see the ghosts of Alfred or Becket. Tradition does not mean a dead town; it does not mean that the living are dead but that the dead are alive. It means that it still matters what Penn did two hundred years ago…. I never could feel that in New York that it mattered what anybody did an hour ago.”
    –G. K. Chesterton in What I Saw in America (1922).

  6. There are croakers in every country, always boding its ruin. Such a one then lived in Philadelphia; a person of note, an elderly man, with a wise look and a very grave manner of speaking; his name was Samuel Mickle. This gentleman, a stranger to me, stopt one day at my door, and asked me if I was the young man who had lately opened a new printing-house. Being answered in the affirmative, he said he was sorry for me, because it was an expensive undertaking, and the expense would be lost; for Philadelphia was a sinking place, the people already half-bankrupts, or near being so; all appearances to the contrary, such as new buildings and the rise of rents, being to his certain knowledge fallacious; for they were, in fact, among the things that would soon ruin us. And he gave me such a detail of misfortunes now existing, or that were soon to exist, that he left me half melancholy. Had I known him before I engaged in this business, probably I never should have done it. This man continued to live in this decaying place, and to declaim in the same strain, refusing for many years to buy a house there, because all was going to destruction; and at last I had the pleasure of seeing him give five times as much for one as he might have bought it for when he first began his croaking.
    –From Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. Apparently, the habit of Philadelphians to put themselves and their city down harkens back to the 1720s, specifically to one Sam Mickle…

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